The competition for 212 innovative schools in Italy

The deadlines for submitting applications for the first phase of the competition for the design and construction of the 212 innovative school buildings have been extended: they will be built in Italy with PNRR resources. The deadline is postponed to 23, 24 and 25 August

School ph. Felipe Schiarolli

There is no doubt that the Draghi government will long remain associated in the collective memory with the National Recovery and Resistance Plan. At least in the first phase of this extensive operation promoted in the wake of the pandemic test to support the Italian economy. Between lights and shadows, PNRR is expected to have an impact on strategic sectors, including infrastructure and construction. The resources allocated to the design and construction of 212 new schools amount to one billion and 189 million euros, which the Ministry of Education has recently launched the competition defined by Minister Patrizio Bianchi “unprecedented for the number of areas involved and for the introduced synergy with a strong social value“. 42.4% of the allocated funds will be reserved for buildings that will take shape in the southern regions, but regardless of the geographical location, the overall goal is “to equip our territories with a new school architecture, more open to society, safe, innovative and sustainable”, in Bianchi’s words. A strong challenge also for the community of technicians (architects and engineers) invited to participate, which actually consists of “several competitions” dedicated to specific territorial areas, all with a two-phase procedure. Prior to that, the preparation of the guidelines was entrusted to a team of experts that included the architects Piano, Boeri, Cucinella, Alvisi, Attia, Ingaramo, Zucchi.


The final document titled Future. Design, build and live in schooldefines an “action manual” for the designers who want to test themselves with the competition, and already in the introduction emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary work to achieve the goal of a “thoughtful school“. In addition to the essential technical skills, it will therefore be advisable for pedagogues, teachers and experts in new technologies to work with a view to spatial planning.”in a pedagogical key“, As pointed out in point 6. Among the invitations to design buildings with minimal environmental impact and the use of sustainable materials, the document takes into account both recent experiences, such as the forced use of DAD, which is reflected in the need to arrange everywhere of advanced technologies and of our country’s chronic difficulties on the school building front. For example, the focus is reserved for “the fundamental unit” of every school structure: the classroom, to rethink and transform “from a rigid and stereotyped space at the heart of a system capable of hosting different configurations and extending to the adjacent spaces“. In addition, the designers are encouraged to prepare the architectural conditions to explore a path still little traveled by the Italian school, namely teaching en plein air. “The external environment is the preferred place to gain experiences not only linked to the natural context (contact with the earth, observation of weather phenomena, cultivation), but also as an extension of the internal environments.“, clause 5 then specifies and enumerates a plurality of spaces (interior courtyards, patios, terraces, hanging gardens, loggias, verandas, pergolas, pavilions) where laboratory, communal activities or meals may take place.


We have developed an intense collaboration with the Ministry in the belief that the design competition is the most suitable way to create good public works by having quality projects.”Declared Francesco Miceli, President of the National Council of Architects, Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservators (CNAPPC). The competition is conducted through the dedicated CNAPPC platform (, for which an extension has just been announced compared to the originally set deadlines. Based on the categories of the areas identified and foreseen by the announcement, the design proposals to be developed for the first of the two phases of the competition must be presented from 23 to 25 August 2022. It will therefore be up to the judging committees to identify the top five for each territorial area. Only these will enter the second phase, for which technical and financial feasibility projects must be drawn up. The competition ends with the approval of the bill placements of credits for each of the 212 eligible areas.

– Valentina Silvestrini

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